Feminist : a man or a woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

TED | We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston (transcript)

(This is a personal transcript. I take responsibility for all typos. The symbol “[–]” simply indicates African names and references unfamiliar to me.)

So I would like to start by telling you about one of my greatest friends, [–]. [–] lived on my street and looked after me like a big brother. If I liked a boy, I would ask [–]‘s opinion. [–] died in the notorious [–] plane crash in Nigeria in December of 2005, almost exactly 7 years ago. [–] was a person I could argue with, laugh with and truly talk to. He was also the first person to call me a feminist. I was about 14, we were in his house, arguing, both of us bristling with half-bit knowledge from books that we had read. I don’t remember what this particular argument was about, but I remember that as I argued and argued, [–] looked at me and said, “You know, you’re a feminist.” It was not a compliment. I could tell from his tone, the same tone that you would use to say something like, “You’re a supporter of terrorism.” I did not know exactly what this word “feminist” meant and I did not want [–] to know that I did not know. So I brushed it aside and continued to argue. And the first thing that I planned to do when I got home was to look up “feminist” in the dictionary.

Now, fast-forward to some years later. I wrote a novel about a man who, among other things beats his wife and whose story doesn’t end very well. When I was promoting the novel in Nigeria, a journalist, a nice well-meaning man told me he wanted to advise me. And to the Nigerians here, I’m sure we’re all familiar with how quick are people to give unsolicited advise. He told me that people were saying that my novel was feminist and his advice to me — and he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke — was that I should never call myself a feminist because feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands. So I decided to call myself a “happy feminist.” Then, an academic, a Nigerian woman told me that feminism was not our culture, that feminism wasn’t Africa, and that I was calling myself a feminist because I had been corrupted by “Western” books, which amused me because a lot of my early reading was decidedly un-feminist. I think I must have read every single [–] published before I was 16. And each time I try to read those books called the “feminists classics” I get bored, and I really struggle to finish them. But anyway, since feminism was un-African, I decided I would now call myself a happy African feminist. At some point I was a happy African feminist who does not hate men and who likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself but not for men. Of course a lot of this was tongue-in-cheek, but that word “feminist” is so heavy with baggage, negative baggage. You hate men, you hate bras, you hate African culture, that sort of thing.

Now, here’s a story from my childhood. When I was in primary school, my teacher said at the beginning of term that she would give the class a test, and whoever got the highest code would be the class monitor. Now, class monitor was a big deal. If you were a class monitor, you got to write down the names of noise-makers, which was heady enough power in its own. But my teacher would also give you a cane to hold in your hand while you walked around and patrolled the class for noise-makers. Now, of course you were not actually allowed to use the cane, but it was an exciting prospect for the 9-year-old me. I very much wanted to be the class monitor, and I got the highest score on the test. Then to my surprise my teacher said that the monitor had to be a boy. She had forgotten to make that clear earlier because she assumed it was obvious. A boy had the second highest score on the test and he would be monitor. Now what was even more interesting about this is that the boy was a sweet gentle soul who had no interest in patrolling the class with a cane. While I was full of ambition to do so. But I was female and he was male, and so he became the class monitor. And I’ve never forgotten that incident.

I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is just as obvious to everyone else. Now take my dear friend Louis, for example. Louis is brilliant progressive man and we would have conversations and he would tell me, “I don’t know what you mean by things being different or harder for women. Maybe in the past, but not now.” And I didn’t understand how Louis could not see what seemed so self-evident. Then one evening in Lagos, Louis and I went out with friends. And for people here who are familiar with Lagos, there’s that wonderful Lagos fixture, the sprinkling of energetic men who hang around outside establishments and very dramatically help you park your car. I was impressed with the particular theatrics of the man who found us a parking spot that evening. And so as we were leaving, I decided to leave him a tip. I opened my bag, put my hand inside my bag, brought out my money that I had earned from doing my work, and I gave it to the man. And he, this man who was very grateful and happy, took the money from me, looked across at Louis, and said, “Thank you, sir!” Louis looked at me surprised, and asked, “Why is he thanking me? I didn’t give him the money.” Then I saw realization dawn on Louis’s face. The man believed that whatever money I had had ultimately come from Louis, because Louis is a man.

Now, men and women are different. We have different hormones, we have different sexual organs, we have different biological abilities; women can have babies, men can’t, at least not yet. Men have testosterone, and are in general physically stronger than women. There are slightly more women than men in the world, about 52% of the world’s population is female. But most of the positions of power and prestige are occupied by men. The late Kenyan, Nobel Peace Laureate, Wangari Maathai, put it simply and well when she said,

The higher you go the fewer women there are.

In the recent US elections we kept hearing of the Lilly Ledbetter Law. And if we go beyond the nicely alliterative name of that law, it was really about a man and a woman doing the same job, being equally qualified and the man being paid more because he is a man. So, in a literal way, men rule the world. And this made sense a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived then in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival. The physically stronger person was more likely to lead. And men in general are physically stronger; of course, there are many exceptions. But today we live in a vastly different world. The person more likely to lead is not the physically stronger person, it is the more creative person, the more intelligent person, the more innovative person, and there are no hormones for those attributes. A man is as likely as a woman to be intelligent, to be creative, to be innovative. We have evolved, but it seems to me that our ideas of gender have not evolved.

Some weeks ago I walked into the lobby of one of the best Nigerian hotels. And a guy at the entrance stopped me and asked me annoying questions. Because the automatic assumption is that a Nigerian female walking into a hotel alone is a sex worker. And, by the way, why do these hotels focus on the ostensible supply rather than the demand for sex workers. In Lagos, I cannot go alone into many reputable bars and clubs. They just don’t let you in if you are a woman alone. You have to be accompanied by a man. Each time I walk into a Nigerian restaurant with a man, the waiter greets the man and ignores me. The waiters are products of a society that has taught them that men are more important than women. And I know the waiters don’t intend any harm, but it is one thing to know intellectually, and quite another to feel it emotionally. Each time they ignore me, I feel invisible. I feel upset. I want to tell them that I am just as human as the man, that I am just as worthy of acknowledgement. These are little things but sometimes it’s the little things that sting the most.

Now, not long ago I wrote an article about what it means to be young a female in Lagos and an acquaintance told me it was so angry. Of course it was angry. I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change, but in addition to being angry, I’m also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to make and remake themselves for the better.

Gender matters everywhere in the world, but I want to focus on Nigeria, and on Africa in general, because it is where I know and because it is where my heart is. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start. We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity becomes this hard small cage and we put boys inside the cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear. We teach boys to be afraid of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves because they have to be, in Nigeria speak, “hard man.”

In secondary school, a boy and a girl, both of them teenagers, both of them with the same amount of pocket money would go out and the boy would be expected always to pay, to prove his masculinity. And yet we wonder why boys are more likely to steal money from their parents. What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity with money? What if the attitude was not, “The boy has to pay,” but rather, “Whoever has more, should pay.” Now, of course because of the historical advantage, it is mostly men who will have more today. But if we start raising children differently, then in fifty years, in a hundred  years, boys will no longer have the pressure of having to prove this masculinity.

But by far the worst thing we do to males, by making them feel that they have to be hard, is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The more “hard man” a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is. And then we do a much greater disservice to girls because we raise them to cater to fragile egos of men. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, “You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you would threaten the man. If you are the bread winner in your relationship with a man, you have to pretend that you’re not. Especially in public. Otherwise you will emasculate him.” But what if we question the premise itself? Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man. What if we decide to simply dispose of that word, and I don’t think there is an English word I dislike more than, “emasculation.”

A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all. In fact it had not occurred to me to be worried because a man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in. But still I was really struck by this. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now, marriage can be a good thing. It can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?

I know a woman who decided to sell her house because she didn’t want to intimidate a man who might marry her. I know an unmarried women in Nigeria who, when she goes to conferences, wears a wedding ring, because according to her, she wants all the participants in the conference to give her respect. I know young women who are under so much pressure from family, from friends, even from work to get married, and they’re pushed to make terrible choices. A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.

It’s easy for us to say, “Oh, but women can just say ‘no’ to all of this.” But the reality is more difficult and more complex. We are all social beings. We internalize ideas from our socialization. Even the language  we use in talking about marriage and relationships illustrates this. The language of marriage is often the language of ownership, rather than the language of partnership. We use the word “respect” to mean something a women shows a man, but not often something a man shows a woman.

Both men and women in Nigeria will say — and this is an expression I am very amused by — “I did it for peace in my marriage.” Now, when men say it, it is usually about something that they should not be doing anyway. Sometimes it is something they say to their friends in a kind of [fundly] exasperated way. You know, something that ultimately proves how masculine they are, how needed, how loved. “Oh, my wife said I can’t go to the club every night, so for peace in my marriage I do it only on weekends.” Now, when a woman says, “I did it for peace in my marriage,” she is usually talking about having given up a job, a dream, a career. We teach females, that in relationships, ‘compromise’ is what women do. We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs, or for accomplishments — which I think can be a good thing — but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends. But our daughters’ boyfriends, God forbid. But of course, when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husbands. We police girls. We praise girls for virginity, but we don’t praise boys for virginity. And it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is all suppose to work out, … [applause] I mean, the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves two people.

Recently a young woman was gang raped in a university in Nigeria. And the response of many young Nigerians, both male and female, was something along the lines of this: “Yes, rape is wrong. But what is a girl doing in a room with four boys?” Now, if we can forget the horrible inhumanity of that response, these Nigerians have been raised to think of women as inherently guilty. And they’ve been raised to expect so little of men that the idea of men as savage beings with out any control is somehow acceptable. We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.

I know a woman who hates domestic work. She just hates it. But she pretends that she likes it because she has been taught that to be good wife material she has to be — to use that Nigerian word — very “homely.” And then she got married, and after a while her husband’s family began to complain that she had changed. Actually, she had not changed. She just gotten tired of pretending.

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.

Now, imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations. Boys and girls are undeniably different, biologically. But socialization exaggerates the differences, and then it becomes a self-fulfilling process.

Now take cooking for example. Today, women in general are more likely to do the housework than men, the cooking and cleaning. But why is that? Is it because women are born with a cooking gene? Or because over the years they have been socialized to see cooking as their role? Actually, I was going to say that maybe women are born with a cooking gene until I remembered that the majority of the famous cooks in the world who we give the fancy title of “chefs,” are men.

I used to look at my grandmother who was a brilliant, brilliant woman and wonder how she would have been if she had the same opportunities as men when she was growing up. Now today, there are many more opportunities for women than there were during my grandmother’s time because of changes in policy, changes in law, all of which are very important. But what matters even more is our attitude, our mindset, what we believe and what we value about gender.

What if, in raising children, we focus on ability, instead of gender? What if, in raising children, we focus on interest, instead of gender? I know a family who have a son and a daughter, both of whom are brilliant at school, who are wonderful, lovely children. When the boy is hungry, the parents say to the girl, “Go and cook [noodles] for your brother.” Now, the girl doesn’t particularly like to cook [noodles], but she’s a girl, and so she has to. Now, what if the parents, from the beginning, taught both the boy and the girl to cook [noodles]? Cooking, by the way is a very useful skill for a boy to have. I’ve never thought it made sense to leave such a crucial thing, the ability to nourish one’s self, in the hands of others. [applause]

I know a woman who was the same degree and the same job as her husband. When they get back from work, she does most of the house work, which I think is true for many marriages. But what struck me about them is that whenever her husband changed the baby’s diaper, she said, “Thank you” to him. Now, what if, she saw this as perfectly normal and natural that he should in fact care for his child?

I’m trying to unlearn many of the lessons of gender that I internalized when I was growing up. But I sometimes still feel very vulnerable in the face of gender expectations. The first time I taught a writing class in graduate school, I was worried. I wasn’t worried about the material I would teach, because I was well prepared and I was going to teach what I enjoyed teaching. Instead, I was worried about what I was going to wear. I wanted to be taken seriously. I knew that because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth, and I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. Instead, I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit. Because the sad truth is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. If a man is getting ready for a business meeting, he doesn’t worry about looking too masculine, and therefore not being taken [for granted] [seriously?]. If a woman is getting ready for a business meeting, she has to worry about looking too feminine, and what it says, and whether or not she will be taken seriously. I wish had not worn that ugly suit that day. I’ve actually banished from my closet, by the way. Had I then, the confidence that I have now, to be myself, my students would have benefited even more from my teaching because I would have been more comfortable, and more truly myself.

I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.

Gender is not an easy conversation to have for both men and women. To bring up gender is sometimes to encounter an almost immediate resistance. I can imagine some people here actually thinking, “Women [–?]” Some of the men here might be thinking, “Okay, all of this is interesting, but I don’t think like that.” And that is part of the problem. That many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender, is part of the problem of gender. That many men say, like my friend Louis, “But everything is fine now.” And that many men do nothing to change it. If you are a man and you walk into a restaurant with a woman and the waiter greets only you, does it occur to you to ask the waiter, “Why haven’t you greeted her?”

Because gender can be a very uncomfortable conversation to have, there are very easy ways to close it, to close the conversation. So, some people will bring up evolutionary biology and apes, how female apes bow down to male apes and that sort of thing. But the point is, we’re not apes. [applause] Apes also live on trees, and have earthworms for breakfast, and we don’t. Some people will say, “Well, poor men also have a hard time.” And this is true. But this is not what this conversation is about. Gender and class are different forms of oppression. I actually learned quite a bit about systems of oppression and how they can be blind to one another by talking to black men. I was once talking to a black man about gender and he said to me, “Why do you have to say ‘my experience as a woman’? Why can’t it be ‘my experience as a human being’?” Now, this is the same man who would often talk about his experience as a black man.

Gender matters. Men and women experience the world differently. Gender colors the way we experience the world. But we can change that. Some people will say, “Oh, but women have the real power, bottom power.” And for non-Nigerians, “bottom power” is an expression in which I suppose means something like a woman who uses her sexuality to get favors from men. But “bottom power” is not power at all. Bottom power means that a woman simply has a good root to tap into, from time to time, somebody else’s power. And then of course we have to wonder when that somebody else is in a bad mood, or sick or sick or impotent.

Some people will say that a woman being subordinate to a man is our culture. But culture is constantly changing. I have beautiful twin nieces who are 15 who live in Lagos. If they had been born 100 years ago, they would have been taken away and killed because it was our culture, it was our culture, the Ibo/Igbo culture to kill twins. So, what is the point of culture. I mean, there is the decorative — the dancing — but also culture is really about the preservation and continuity of a people. In my family, I am the child who is most interested in the story of who we are in our traditions and the knowledge of ancestral lands. My brothers are not as interested as I am, but I cannot participate. I cannot go to a [–] meetings, I cannot have a say, because I am female.

Culture does not make people. People make culture.

So if it is in fact true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we must make it our culture.

I think very often of my dear friend [–]. May he and others who past away in that [–] crash continue to rest in peace. He will always be remembered by those of us who loved him. And he was right, that day many years ago, when he called me a feminist. I am a feminist. And when I looked up that word in the dictionary that day, this is what it said:

feminist : a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

My great-grandmother, from the stories I’ve heard, was a feminist. She ran away from the house of a man she did not to marry and ended up marrying the man of her choice. She refused, she protested, she spoke up, whenever she felt she was being deprived of access of land, that sort of thing. My great-grandmother did not know that word, “feminist.” But it doesn’t means that she wasn’t one. More of us should reclaim that word.

My own definition of feminist is:

feminist : a man or a woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.”

The best feminist I know is my brother [–]. He is also a kind, good-looking, lovely man, and he is very masculine.

Thank you.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc

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Happy Juneteenth 2014!!!

JUNETEENTH: A CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM

WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?

Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come until General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, on June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

BUT DIDN’T THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION FREE THE ENSLAVED?

President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, notifying the states in rebellion against the Union that if they did not cease their rebellion and return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare their slaves forever free. Needless to say, the proclamation was ignored by those states that seceded from the Union. Furthermore, the proclamation did not apply to those slave-holding states that did not rebel against the Union. As a result about 8000,000 slaves were unaffected by the provisions of the proclamation. It would take a civil war to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to formally outlaw slavery in the United States.

WHEN IS JUNETEENTH CELEBRATED?

Annually, on June 19, in more than 200 cities in the United States. Texas (and Oklahoma) is the only state that has made Juneteenth a legal holiday. Some cities sponsor week-long celebrations, culminating on June 19, while others hold shorter celebrations.

WHY IS JUNETEENTH CELEBRATED?

It symbolizes the end of slavery. Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African-Americans what the fourth of July symbolizes for all Americans — freedom. It serves as a historical milestone reminding Americans of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery. It honors those African-Americans ancestors who survived the inhumane institution of bondage, as well as demonstrating pride in the marvelous legacy of resistance and perseverance they left us.

WHY NOT JUST CELEBRATE THE FOURTH OF JULY LIKE OTHER AMERICANS?

Blacks do celebrate the Fourth of July in honor of American Independence Day, but history reminds us that blacks were still enslaved when the United States obtained its independence.

WHY WERE SLAVES IN TEXAS THE LAST TO KNOW THAT THEY WERE FREE?

During the Civil War, Texas did not experience any significant invasion by Union forces. Although the Union army made several attempts to invade Texas, they were thwarted by Confederate troops. As a result, slavery in Texas continued to thrive. In fact, because slavery in Texas experienced such a minor interruption in its operation, many slave owners from other slave-holding states brought their slaves to Texas to wait out the war. News of the emancipation was suppressed due to the overwhelming influence of the slave owners.

 

The Meaning of Juneteenth — Freedom

When blacks in Texas heard the news, they alternately sang, danced and prayed. There was much rejoicing and jubilation that their life long prayers had finally been answered. Many of the slaves left their masters immediately upon being freed, in search of family members, economic opportunities or simply because they could. They left with nothing but the clothes on their backs and hope in their hearts. Oh, freedom!

“When my oldest brother heard we were free, he gave a whoop, ran, and jumped a high fence, and told mammy good-bye. Then he grabbed me up and hugged and kissed me and said, “Brother is gone, don’t expect you’ll ever see me anymore,” I don’t know where he went, but I never did see him again.” — Susan Ross

Freedom meant more than the right to travel freely. It meant the right to name one’s self and many freedmen gave themselves new names. County courthouses were overcrowded as blacks applied for licenses to legalize their marriages. Emancipation allowed ex-slaves the right to assemble and openly worship as they saw fit. As a result, a number of social and community organizations were formed, many originating from the church. Freedom implied that for the first time, United States laws protected the rights of blacks. There was a run on educational primers as freed men and woman sought the education that had for so long been denied them. The Bureau of Refuges, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, were founded by Congress in March 1865 to provide relief services for former slaves. Schools were established and joined churches as centers of the newly-freed communities. The promise of emancipation gave freedmen optimism for the future; few realized slavery’s bitter legacy was just beginning to unfold and that equality was to remain an elusive dream. Oh freedom!

At the beginning of Reconstruction, the period immediately following the end of the Civil War, rumors were rampant that every freedman would be given forty acres and a mule. Ex-slaves petitioned for land and, with federal troops stationed throughout the South to protect their rights, looked forward to participating in American society as free citizens. In some cases ex-slaves were successful in obtaining land. Land grants by Congress allowed several states to establish black colleges.

The optimism was short-lived, however, and soon replaced by a betrayal so soul shattering blacks questioned whether the United States was serious about granting them their freedom. Ex-slaves found for the most part, that despite the Freedman’s Bureau, they were left to fend for themselves. The abject poverty and the racism that maintained it, prohibited any hope for assimilated into American society. In Texas, the editor of the Harrison Flag newspaper denounced as “treasonable” the sale of land to blacks. The Texas Homestead Act, passed during Reconstruction, granted up to 160 acres of free land to white persons only. The Texas legislature in 1866 passed a new set of black codes that attempted to reverse the limited gains blacks had been granted.

Ex-slaves entered freedom under the worst possible conditions. Most were turned loose penniless and homeless, with only the clothes on their back. Ex-slaves were, as Frederick Douglas said “free, without roofs to cover them, or bread to eat, or land to cultivate, and as a consequence died in such numbers as to awaken the hope of their enemies that they would soon disappear.”

Many white Texans disdained black freedom and this utter contempt guaranteed the price of freedom for many would be unaffordable. The sharecropping system that emerged in Texas and all over the deep South kept many blacks from starving, but had little to distinguish it from the slave life blacks thought they had escaped. This was the other side of emancipation where high expectations gave way to heart-crushing disillusionment.

By 1877, the end of Reconstruction, the North had abandoned black Americans to the will of southern whites, who through violence, racial discrimination and Jim Crow laws succeeded in disenfranchising them, resulting in more than 100 years of oppression. It’s not surprising that blacks turned to the only institution that gave them hope–the church.

CHURCH

From the establishment of the first black church in America, throughout slavery and beyond, the church has been the foundation of the black community. During the horrific days of slavery it provided relief and nourishment for the soul with its promise of a better life after death. The church gave the slave dignity and assured him he was equal in the eyes of God. Despite his earthly condition he was loved and valued as a child of God no matter how difficult his burden became or unbearable his suffering was, Jesus, who too suffered, prepared a place of rest for him when his time was up on earth. It was this religious faith that sustained the slave and enabled him to endure his bondage.

The slave owner was able to observe a glimpse of this faith as he heard the incredible music that seemed to come out of the slave’s soul while toiling in the field. If the slave owner had ventured into a slave church, his strong defense of slavery would no doubt have been weakened. He would have seen the people he considered inferior and sub-human without the defensive masks they wore in the fields; in their churches, enslaved men and woman displayed a dignity and stateliness that survived the slave owner’s dehumanizing oppression.

The church was more than a safe house. It served as a launching pad for black leadership and was involved early on in working for liberation. Many free blacks in northern churches participated in the Underground Railroad, raised money for freedmen after the Civil War, and helped keep the black community intact.

The importance of the black church cannot be overstated. It was, and perhaps still is, the single most important institution in the black community. It permitted self-expression and supported creativity at a time when it could have meant death. An example is found in the spirituals, gospel and other forms of music that helped blacks explain and endure their sojourn in America. Blacks were able to use their churches to hone organization and leadership skills useful in the economic, social and political development of their community. It’s no accident that Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson and a host of other civil rights leaders got their start through the black church.

Therefore it is not surprising the black church has always played a pivOtal role in keeping alive the meaning of Juneteenth. Religion has always been at the root of the observance of this holiday, which is ironic, considering it is a holiday born out of an institution so far removed from Christian ideals–slavery.

The Black Church provided a haven from the daily oppression slaves faced, but after freedom it was also the center of social activities including the sponsorship of the annual Juneteenth Celebration.

TRADITIONAL PRAYER

The deep spiritual faith of the enslaved is reflected in the traditional prayer below. Similar prayers are often recited in Juneteenth celebrations.

Father, I stretch my hand to thee–for no other help I know. Oh my rose of Sharon, my shelter in the time of storm. My prince of peace, my hope in this harsh land. We bow before you this morning to thank you for watching over us and taking care of us. This morning you touched us and brought us out of the land of slumber, gave us another day–thank you Jesus. We realize that many that talked as we now talked, this morning when their names were called, they failed to answer. Their voices were hushed up in death. Their souls had taken a flight and gone back to the God that gave it, but not so with us. We are thankful the sheet we covered with, was not our winding sheet, and the bed we slept on was not our cooling board. You spared us and gave us one more chance to pray. And Father, before we go further, we want to pause and thank you for forgiving our sins. Forgive all our wrong doings. We don’t deserve it, but you lengthened out the briskly threads of our lives and gave us another chance to pray, and Lord for this we thank you… Now Lord, when I’ve come to the end of my journey, when praying days are done and time for me shall be no more; when these knees have bowed for the last time, when I too, like all others must come in off the battlefield of life, when I’m through being ‘buked and scorned, I pray for a home in glory.

When I come down to the river of Jordan, hold the river still and let your servant cross over during a calm down. Father, I’ll be looking for that land where Job said the wicked would cease from troubling us and our weary souls would be at rest; over there where a thousand years is but a day in eternity, where I’ll meet with loved ones and where I can sing praises to thee; and we can say with the saints of old, Free at Last, Free at Last, thank God almighty, I am free at last. Your servant’s prayer for Christ sake. Amen!
— Traditional with additions from Reverend Wallace Evans

LEGACY OF SLAVERY

The fact that it took a Civil War to forcibly put an end to slavery left a bitter legacy that continues to divide American society. Slavery so bankrupted slave owners’ sense of right and wrong that they were willing to die to defend that lifestyle. A slave-holding minority morally corrupted a nation, and this legacy still haunts the country.

According to historian John Hope Franklin, “the Founding Fathers (by allowing slavery) set the stage for every succeeding generation of Americans to apologize, compromise and temporize on those principles of liberty that were supposed to be the very foundation of our system of government and way of life…that is why this nation tolerated and indeed, nurtured the cultivation of racism that has been as insidious as it has been pervasive.”

Professor Franklin asks, “How could the colonists make (such) distinctions in their revolutionary philosophy? They either meant that all men were created equal or they did not mean it at all. They either meant that every man was entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or they did not mean it at all…Patrick Henry, who had cried, ‘Give me liberty or give me death’, admitted that slavery was ‘repugnant to humanity’, but (obviously) not terribly repugnant, for he continued to hold blacks in bondage. So did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson…”

This blatant hypocrisy poisoned both religion and the law. Every institution at the slave-holder’s disposal was used to justify slavery. Instead of the slave-owner being considered inhumane, the people he enslaved were. The legacy of racism has grown into perhaps the greatest internal threat that this country faces. John Hope Franklin aptly put it when he wrote that “slavery weakened America’s moral authority.”

It’s amazing that despite living under the most inhumane conditions known to humankind, blacks contributed everything from agricultural inventions, to medical breakthroughs, to music. Enslaved artisans crafted incredible sculptures, designed beautiful buildings and helped build a nation. Blacks preserved a culture and succeeded in passing down a legacy of music, language, food, religion and a lesson in survival. We’ll never know how many scientists, engineers, doctors and artists were lost on the trip over on the slave ships or after they arrived.

Slavery taught America another lesson, one that it too often ignores. Blacks and whites worked together to create an anti-slavery movement that ultimately succeeded. Later they fought and died together to force an end of slavery. Blacks and whites have worked throughout the nation’s history for social justice. This lesson of cooperation must never be forgotten.

While the painful side of slavery makes it difficult for many blacks to celebrate Juneteenth, it is the positive legacy of perseverance and cooperation that makes it impossible for others to ignore.

WHY WE CELEBRATE

J — Juneteenth represents the joy of freedom–the chance for a new beginning.

U — Unless we expose the truth about the African-American slave experience, Americans won’t be truly free.

N — Never must we forget our ancestors’ endurance of one of the worst slave experiences in human history.

E — Every American has benefitted from the wealth blacks created through over 200 years of free labor and Juneteenth allows us to acknowledge that debt.

T — To encourage every former slave-holding state to follow Texas’ (and Oklahoma’s) example and make Juneteenth a state holiday.

E — Every day in America, blacks are reminded of the legacy of slavery. Juneteenth counters that by reminding us of the promise of deliverance.

E — Even on the journey to discover who we are, Juneteenth allows us to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going as a people.

N — Never give up hope is the legacy our enslaved ancestors left. It was this legacy that produced black heroism in the Civil War and helped launch the modern civil rights era. It is this legacy we celebrate.

T — To proclaim for all the world to hear, that human rights must never again become subservient to property rights.

H — History books have only told a small part of the story; Juneteenth gives us a chance to set the record straight.

FREEDOM IS ALWAYS WORTH CELEBRATING!

The MOVE 9 Bombing: 29 Years Later

Today marks the 29th year since the Philadelphia-based movement’s headquarters were bombed by law enforcement

move

On this date in 1985, a four pound bomb made of the explosive C-4 and Tovex, a dynamite substitute, was dropped onto the roof of a revolutionary organization by American state and federal agencies, killing six adults and five children.

No, this was not in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other country that the media has trained the general public to believe is justified in receiving such an attack. This military action was executed on American citizens.

MOVE, which was founded in 1972 by Vincent Leaphart, who later became known as John Africa, lived communally and frequently engaged in public demonstrations related to issues they deemed important. MOVE’s early protests centered around treatment of animals in zoos and circuses and poor housing conditions for the elderly. As time went by, MOVE began to protest chemical companies such as Dow Chemical and DuPont. As the decade wore on, MOVE began to be targeted by the Philadelphia Police Department for its views on technology and its “getting back to nature” mentality.

In 1978, a negotiation was reached to vacate their Powellton Village headquarters after a year-long standoff with the police, however, they refused to follow the court order and vacate. After the eviction notice was served on the premises, the Philadelphia PD attempted re-entry, in which Officer James Ramp was shot in the back of the head and killed. In turn, nine members of the group were found guilty of 3rd degree murder and all sentenced to 30-100 years in prison. 7 of the 9 became eligible for parole in 2008, but were all denied.

Following the 1978 shoot-out, or “shoot-in” as it has been called by some, the MOVE house was immediately bulldozed despite a court order against its destruction — as well as the fact of it being a crime scene — by the city on the orders of mayor Frank L. Rizzo. This destroyed any and all defense evidence. For the next seven years, MOVE worked tirelessly to free the MOVE 9 and other members of the organization who had been jailed. MOVE relocated to Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia. After neighborhood complaints about dirtiness, rat infestations, and MOVE’s refusal to use electricity and gas, another eviction notice was drawn up to relocate MOVE members. This time 500 to 600 armed law enforcement descended into the Osage Avenue neighborhood and neighborhood residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. On the morning of May 13, 1985 MOVE headquarters was bombarded with water from fire hoses. Then came the tear gas. At 5:20 p.m. the four pound C-4 bomb was dropped and MOVE headquarters caught fire. Despite using fire hoses to try to get MOVE members to evacuate the house on Osage Avenue, after the fire started the fire department turned no hoses towards the flames. Instead, the flames of the fire were left to burn destroying MOVE headquarters and 58 other houses in the neighborhood. Neighborhood residents were shocked and appalled by what had transpired. Eleven people – six adults and five children – were massacred, an entire neighborhood was burned to the ground and over 280 people were displaced from their homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Delbert Africa dragged by Philadelphia police officers after they dropped a bomb on the MOVE home.)

According to a chosen few, the price of freedom is death. MOVE members have given and continue to give their lives in the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.

A revolutionary soldier salute goes out to Sister Debbie Africa, who I have had the honor of corresponding with and has sat in a Pa. prison cell for 25 years in the name of freedom. She gave birth to her son Mike Jr. in her prison cell on September 15, 1978 with no medical assistance

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)

Source: http://thesource.com/2014/05/13/the-move-organization-bombing-29-years-later/

28 Years Ago Today: Philadelphia Police Department Bombs MOVE Headquarters

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been 28 years to the day since the City of Philadelphia dropped explosives on the MOVE headquarters on Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia that set fire to an entire residential block.

The fire destroyed the homes of neighbors who had grown impatient with the noise and conditions at the “back-to-nature” MOVE house

by:

Linn Washington Jr.

Philadelphia loves to brag about it’s ‘Firsts,’ citing such notable things as the nation’s first capital (1774), America’s first zoo (1874) and the birthplace of the world’s first digital computer ENIAC (1946).

There is one ‘First’ that will never appear in slick tourist handouts from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau though, and that’s the city’s first air raid on May 13, 1985, when the city deliberately bombed an occupied house containing children, sparking a deadly firestorm.

Philadelphia MOVE Bombing Anniversary

A bomb dropped on an American city by that city’s own police force?

Yes, a bomb made with hi-explosive military C-4 and powerful Tovex dropped by Philadelphia police from a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter onto the roof of 6221 Osage Ave., located in West Philadelphia just blocks from the University of Pennsylvania – considered America’s ‘First’ university.

Police drop satchel of C-4 explosive on the MOVE housePolice drop satchel of C-4 explosive on the MOVE house

That 5:27PM bombing ignited a small fire that grew steadily because of an unconscionable decision by Philadelphia’s then Police Commissioner, Greg Sambor.

The commissioner ordered arriving firefighters not to fight the spreading blaze, telling them to “let the fire burn” because he wanted to use the flames as a “tactical weapon” to drive out persons barricaded inside the bombed house.

Over three hours later, when firefighters finally received permission to attack this blaze with hoses, it had become a raging inferno that gutted 61 homes – including the entire 6200 block of Osage Ave. – leaving 250 homeless and killing 11 people in the original bombed house, five of them children ranging in ages from 7-to-14-years-old.

All of the fatalities – adults and children – were members of MOVE, a radical organization that had waged a series of often violent confrontations with Philadelphia city officials for over a decade.

*****

During the 1970s and early 1980s MOVE was an offensively confrontational group.

The group had fortified 6221 Osage Ave. as part of their strategy to win release of nine imprisoned members they felt authorities had unjustly convicted for a fatal 1978 shootout with police.

The March 1986 report from the MOVE Commission established by Philadelphia’s then mayor to probe the 5/13/85 bombing declared that MOVE had “held Osage Avenue “hostage” for nearly two years [through a] deliberate use of terror…violent acts against their own neighbors.”

Philadelphia_MOVE_Bombing_Anniversary_3

The flash point for that series of confrontations, however, was rampant brutality by Philadelphia police.

In 1973, months after MOVE first surfaced publicly, a federal judge issued a ruling in a class-action lawsuit on brutality, unrelated to MOVE, where he stated that violence by Philadelphia police – from physical assaults to fatal shootings – occurred with such frequency it could not “be dismissed as rare, isolated incidents.”

Typically though, Philadelphia’s body politic dismissed the televised police brutality on May 13th as an isolated incident precipitated by MOVE’s intransigence.

Democracy Now! Interviews Ramona Africa:

Pam Africa, Myself & Ramona Africa:

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ONA MOVE!!!

An Open Letter From Assata

My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

 

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. According to the report:

The FBI and the New York Police Department in particular, charged and accused Assata Shakur of participating in attacks on law enforcement personnel and widely circulated such charges and accusations among police agencies and units. The FBI and the NYPD further charged her as being a leader of the Black Liberation Army which the government and its respective agencies described as an organization engaged in the shooting of police officers. This description of the Black Liberation Army and the accusation of Assata Shakur’s relationship to it was widely circulated by government agents among police agencies and units. As a result of these activities by the government, Ms. Shakur became a hunted person; posters in police precincts and banks described her as being involved in serious criminal activities; she was highlighted on the FBI’s most wanted list; and to police at all levels she became a ‘shoot-to-kill’ target.”

 

I was falsely accused in six different “criminal cases” and in all six of these cases I was eventually acquitted or the charges were dismissed. The fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were dismissed, did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was certainly not the case. It only meant that the “evidence” presented against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges.

On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a “faulty tail light.” Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became “suspicious.” He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Foerster was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Foerster was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths. Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial We were both convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison. In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life.

The U.S. Senate’s 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence operations inside the USA, revealed that “The FBI has attempted covertly to influence the public’s perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously or through “friendly” news contacts.” This same policy is evidently still very much in effect today.

On December 24, 1997, The New Jersey State called a press conference to announce that New Jersey State Police had written a letter to Pope John Paul II asking him to intervene on their behalf and to aid in having me extradited back to New Jersey prisons. The New Jersey State Police refused to make their letter public. Knowing that they had probably totally distort the facts, and attempted to get the Pope to do the devils work in the name of religion, I decided to write the Pope to inform him about the reality of’ “justice” for black people in the State of New Jersey and in the United States. (See attached Letter to the Pope).

 

In January of 1998, during the pope’s visit to Cuba, I agreed to do an interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza around my letter to the Pope, about my experiences in New Jersey court system, and about the changes I saw in the United States and it’s treatment of Black people in the last 25 years. I agreed to do this interview because I saw this secret letter to the Pope as a vicious, vulgar, publicity maneuver on the part of the New Jersey State Police, and as a cynical attempt to manipulate Pope John Paul II. I have lived in Cuba for many years, and was completely out of touch with the sensationalist, dishonest, nature of the establishment media today. It is worse today than it was 30 years ago. After years of being victimized by the “establishment” media it was naive of me to hope that I might finally get the opportunity to tell “my side of the story.” Instead of an interview with me, what took place was a “staged media event” in three parts, full of distortions, inaccuracies and outright lies. NBC purposely misrepresented the facts. Not only did NBC spend thousands of dollars promoting this “exclusive interview series” on NBC, they also spent a great deal of money advertising this “exclusive interview” on black radio stations and also placed notices in local newspapers.

 . . .

Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not have a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real freedom of speech, no real freedom of expression and very little freedom of the press. The black press and the progressive media has historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We need to continue and to expand that tradition. We need to create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers. But I feel that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in Amerika. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth. But I sincerely ask, those of you in the Black media, those of you in the progressive media, those of you who believe in truth freedom, To publish this statement and to let people know what is happening. We have no voice, so you must be the voice of the voiceless.

Free all Political Prisoners, I send you Love and Revolutionary Greetings From Cuba, One of the Largest, Most Resistant and Most Courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on the Face of this Planet.

Assata Shakur Havana, Cuba

Read more at: http://www.daveyd.com/assataletterpol.html

Below is a clip of Assata Sakur’s Documentary “Eyes of the Rainbow: Assata Shakur Documentary”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography

*Black Girls Are Ugly*

 

By Micky 

 

Most statements in life fit into either the ‘fact’, ‘fiction’ or ‘opinion’ category.  However, it seems that some black men (and I use that term loosely), are attempting to break the rules of life, and believe if they repeat their opinions long enough, they will start to become factual. What they have achieved, in fact, is a whole new category of ‘delusion’.

 

Black girls are ugly’– fiction. Correction, ‘black girls are ugly’– opinion.  Sorry, ‘black girls are ugly’– delusion.  ‘Black guys who say black girls are ugly should have been the product of masturbation’– FACT.

 

A recurring topic of conflict between black males and females is the black males’ denunciation of the black female race. I’ve seen and heard black males constantly put black females down ‘all black girls are ugly’, ‘I can’t run my fingers through a black girl’s hair’. Can we pause just for a second to question what the pressing need is for you to run your fingers through any girl’s hair?  Okay, I get the romantic gesture of maybe playing with a few strands, wrapping them around your finger while you gaze lovingly into her eyes. But to take your four whole fingers and thumb and push them through the length of her hair, roots to end? Um.

Okay, let me continue. Now, I’m not one of those black girls with a Jackson 5 afro, who believes every word India Arie sings is gospel and who spends 140 characters of every tweet proclaiming that ‘black is beautiful’.  I am actually of mixed heritage and therefore feel I have an unbiased opinion of this issue. After all, if it wasn’t for interracial dating, I wouldn’t exist.  But I totally get why black girls would have issues with interracial dating, and the reason for that is YOU. Let me clarify some things for you though. If Tom wants to date Shaniqua, it is highly unlikely that any black girl would have an issue with this. Why? Because Tom doesn’t cuss Laura, Jess and Beth in order to appreciate Shaniqua. He appreciates Shaniqua for being Shaniqua.  However when Tyrone wants to date Chloe, it’s often because Shaniqua is ‘too loud’ and Shaniqua is ‘too hard to deal with’ and Shaniqua ‘argues too much’. How often do you hear black men say ‘I need to get me a white girl’? Not because he loves the glossy, milky radiance of Caucasian skin and the way her wispy hair blows in the wind, but because the alternative is ‘too hard’ to handle. Are white girls not insulted by this?  Being the easy alternative is not a compliment but some will sit there and giggle and blush when a black male is cussing black females.

A girl is not beautiful because she is black, neither is a girl ugly because she is white. Let your choice be a girl you find attractive who, only HAPPENS to be whatever race she is. Black girls do not ‘hate’ on white girls in interracial relationships because we want the black guy in the relationship. Negro, please. However, black men are the cause of this resentment we feel towards such relationships and therefore should take responsibility for it. I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their own preference. What I don’t condone, however, is an insulting, offensive public declaration of your preference.

One thing that REALLY gets to me is the phrase ‘she’s nice for a dark skinned girl.’ We all know that dark skinned girls bear the majority of the insults. It shouldn’t be like that, but it is. How dare people suggest that being dark skinned is a disadvantage? Like it’s the Paralympics -‘he plays football well for a blind man.’ As if being darker already puts you at a disadvantage and therefore if you’re pretty, you deserve bigger recognition. And who has defined what shades are beautiful? Largely, the media has. What’s interesting is that black females don’t fall for this.  We see the likes of Gabrielle Union and Kelly Rowland we see beauty. Maybe inwardly we’re affected, but it’s very rare that we would publicly express these thoughts should they exist. We have grown something called solidarity. Why put our sisters down when the rest of the world already does? Black men, strengthen your minds. Your opinions are weak because the minds they come from are weak.

 

One of the things I have learned growing up, is that the people I am attracted to, attract me because of their qualities, not because of someone else’s apparent downfalls. What do I mean? By all means, be with Becky, breed Becky, MARRY Becky because to you, Becky is amazing. NOT because, Shaniqua is too loud, and Shaniqua is too much to deal with and because you can’t run your fingers through Shaniqua’s hair. Speaking of hair, you have a problem with weave? My brain cells aren’t able to wrap around the foolishness of this statement. How many of you would approach Meagan Good with an afro? You hate that black girls wear weaves, you love that white girls have ‘natural’ hair? Do you even know how many white girls have hair extensions? Trust me when I say fake hair is not just a ‘black’ thing.  Why must you be negative about one race in order to be positive about another? And while you, black men read this blog, cussing my views, calling me a ‘hater’, your mother, Shaniqua is downstairs cooking your dinner.

By Micky

Source: http://www.hoodvoice.co.uk/hood-blog/dear-black-men/

Twitter: @JamaineJones

Malcolm X – You Can’t Hate the Roots Of A Tree

Malcolm X – You Can’t Hate the Roots Of A Tree (Speech)

Transcript Included Below:

Why should the Black man in America concern himself since he’s been away from the African continent for three or four hundred years? Why should we concern ourselves?

What impact does what happens to them have upon us? Number one, you have to realize that up until 1959 Africa was dominated by the colonial powers. Having complete control over Africa, the colonial powers of Europe projected the image of Africa negatively.

They always project Africa in a negative light: jungle savages, cannibals, nothing civilized. Why then, naturally it was so negative that it was negative to you and me, and you and I began to hate it. We didn’t want anybody telling us anything about Africa, much less calling us Africans.

In hating Africa and in hating the Africans, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it. Because you can’t hate the roots of a tree, and not hate the tree. You can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.

You show me one of these people over here who has been thoroughly brainwashed and has a negative attitude toward Africa, and I’ll show you one who has a negative attitude toward himself. You can’t have a positive toward yourself and a negative attitude toward Africa at the same time. To the same degree that your understanding of and attitude toward become positive, you’ll find that your understanding of and your toward yourself will also become positive.

And this is what the white man knows. So they very skillfully make you and me hate our African identity, our African characteristics. You know yourself that we have been a people who hated our African characteristics. We hated our heads, we hated the shape of our nose, we wanted one of those long doglike noses, you know; we hated the color of our skin, hated the blood of Africa that was in our veins. And in hating our features and our skin and our blood, why, we had to end up hating ourselves. And we hated ourselves.

Our color became to us a chain–we felt that it was holding us back; our color became to us like a prison which we felt was keeping us confined, not letting us go this way or that way. We felt all of these restrictions were based solely upon our color, and the psychological reaction to that would have to be that as long as we felt imprisoned or chained or trapped by Black skin, Black features, and Black blood, that skin and those features and that blood holding us back automatically had to become hateful to us. And it became hateful to us.

It made us feel inferior; it made us feel inadequate made us feel helpless. And when we fell victims to this feeling of inadequacy or inferiority or helplessness, we turned to somebody else to show us the way. We didn’t have confidence in another Black man to show us the way, or Black people to show us the way. In those days we didn’t. We didn’t think a man could do anything except play some horns–you know, make sound and make you happy with some songs and in that way.

But in serious things, where our food, clothing, shelter, and education were concerned, we turned to the man. We never thought in terms of bringing these things into existence for ourselves, we never thought in terms of doing for ourselves. Because we felt helpless.

What made us feel helpless was our hatred for ourselves. And our hatred for ourselves stemmed from hatred for things African. After 1959 the spirit of African nationalism was fanned to a high flame, and we then began to witness the complete collapse of colonialism. France began to get out of French West Africa, Belgium began to make moves to get out of the Congo, Britain began to make moves to get out of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Nigeria, and some of these other places.

And although it looked like they were getting out, they pulled a trick that was colossal. When you’re playing ball and they’ve got you trapped, you don’t throw the ball away–you throw it to one of your teammates who’s in the clear. And this is what the European powers did.

They were trapped African continent, they couldn’t stay there –they were looked upon as colonial and imperialist. They had to pass the ball to someone whose image was different, and they passed the ball to Uncle Sam. And he picked it up and has been running it for a touchdown ever since.

He was in the clear, he was not looked upon as one who had colonized the African continent. At that time, the Africans couldn’t see that though the Unites States hadn’t colonized the African continent, it had colonized twenty-two million Blacks here on this continent. Because we’re just as thoroughly colonized as anybody else. When the ball was passed to the United States, it was passed at the time when John Kennedy came into power. He picked it up and helped to run it. He was one of the shrewdest backfield runners that history has recorded. He surrounded himself with intellectuals–highly educated, learned, and well informed people.

And their analysis told him that the government of America was confronted with a new problem. And this new problem stemmed from the fact that Africans were now awakened, they were enlightened, they were fearless, they would fight. This meant that the Western powers couldn’t stay there by force. Since their own economy, the European economy and the American economy was based upon their continued influence over the African continent, they had to find some means of staying there.

So they used the friendly approach. They switched from the old, openly colonial imperialistic approach to the benevolent approach. They came up with some benevolent colonialism, philanthropic colonialism, humanitarianism, or dollarism. Immediately everything was Peace Corps, Operation Crossroads, “We’ve got to help our African brothers.” Pick up on that: Can’t help us in Mississippi. Can’t help us in Alabama, or Detroit, or out here in Dearborn, where some real Ku Klux Klan lives. They’re going to send all the way to Africa to help.

One of the things that made the Black Muslim movement grow was its emphasis upon things African. This was the secret to the growth of the Black Muslim movement. African blood, African origin, African culture, African ties. And you’d be surprised–we discovered that deep within the subconscious of the black man in this country, he is still more African than he is American. He thinks that he’s more American than African, because the man is jiving him, the man is brainwashing him every day.

He’s telling him, “You’re an American, you’re an American.” Man, how could you think you’re an American when you haven’t ever had any kind of an American treat over here? You have never, never. Ten men can be at a table eating, you know, dining, and I can come and sit down where they’re dining. They’re dining; I’ve got a plate in front of me, but nothing is on it. Because all of us are sitting at the same table, are all us are diners? I’m not a diner until you let me dine. Just being at the table with others who are dining doesn’t make me a diner, and this is what you’ve got to get in your head here in this country. Just because you’re in this country doesn’t make you an American.

No, you’ve got to go farther than that before you can become an American. You’ve got to enjoy the fruits of Americanism. You haven’t enjoyed those fruits. You’ve enjoyed the thorns. You’ve enjoyed the thistles. But you have not enjoyed the fruits, no sir. You have fought harder for the fruits the white man has, you have worked harder for the fruits than the white man has, but you’ve enjoyed less. When the man put the uniform on and sent you abroad, you fought harder than they did. Yes, I know you–when you’re fighting for them, you can fight.

The Black Muslim movement did make that contribution. They made the whole civil rights movement become more militant and more acceptable to the white power structure. He would rather have them than us. In fact, I think we forced many of the civil rights leaders to be even more militant than they intended. I know some of them who get out there and “boom, boom, boom” and don’t mean it. Because they’re right on back in their corner as soon as the action comes.

The worst thing the white man can do to himself is to take one of these kinds of Negroes and ask him, “How do your people feel, boy?” He’s going to tell that man that we are satisfied. That’s what they do, brothers and sisters. They get behind the door and tell the white man we’re satisfied. “Just keep on keeping me up here in front of them, boss, and I’ll keep them behind you.” That’s what they talk when they’re behind closed us. Because, you see, the white man doesn’t go along with anybody who’s not for him. He doesn’t care are you for right or wrong; he wants to know are you for him. And if you’re for him, he doesn’t care what else you’re for. As long as you’re for him, then he puts you up over the Negro community. You become a spokesman…

Brothers and sisters, let me tell you, I spend my time out there streets with people, all kinds of people, listening to what they have to say. And they’re dissatisfied, they’re disillusioned, they’re fed up, they’re getting to the point of frustration where they begin to feel, “What do we have to lose?” When you get to that point, you’re the type of person who can create a very dangerously explosive atmosphere. This is what’s happening in our neighborhoods, to our people.

I read in a poll taken by Newsweek magazine this week, saying that Negroes are satisfied. Oh, yes, Newsweek, you know, supposed to be a top magazine with a top pollster, talking about how satisfied Negroes are. Maybe I haven’t met the Negroes he met. Because I know he hasn’t met the ones that I’ve met. And this is dangerous. This is where the white man does himself the most harm. He invents statistics to create an image thinking that that image is going to hold things in check.

You know why they always say Negroes are lazy? Because they want Negroes to be lazy. They always say Negroes can’t unite, because they don’t want Negroes to unite. And once they put this thing in the Negro’s mind, they feel he tries to fulfill their image. If they say you can’t unite Black people and then you come to them to unite them, they won’t unite, because it’s been said that they’re not supposed to unite. It’s a psycho that they work and it’s the same way with these statistics.

When they think that an explosive era is coming up, then they grab their press again and begin to shower the Negro public, to make it appear that all Negroes are satisfied. Because if you know you’re dissatisfied all by yourself and ten others aren’t, you play it cool; but if you know that all ten of you are dissatisfied, you get with it. This is what the man knows. The man knows that if these Negroes find out how dissatisfied they really are–even Uncle Tom is dissatisfied, he’s just playing his part for now–this is what makes the man frightened. It frightens them in France and it frightens them in England, and it frightens them in the United States.

And it is for this reason that it is so important for you and me to start organizing among ourselves, intelligently, and try to find out: “What are we going to do if this happens, that happens or the next thing happens?” Don’t think that you’re going to run to the man and say, “Look, boss this is me.” Why, when the deal goes down, you’ll look just like me in his eyesight; I’ll make it tough for you. Yes, when the deal goes down, he doesn’t look at you in any better light than he looks at me…

I say again that I’m not a racist, I don’t believe in any form of segregation or anything like that. I’m for brotherhood for everybody, but I don’t believe in forcing brotherhood upon people who done’ want it. Let us practice brotherhood among ourselves, and then if others want to practice brotherhood with us, we’re for practicing it with them also. But I don’t think that we should run around trying to love somebody who doesn’t love us.

Cornel West Disappointed in President Obama’s Use of MLK’s Bible

Dr. Cornel West speaks out against President Obama being sworn in using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s bible.

by Amber McKynzie Posted: January 24, 2013

Cornel West sat on a panel, titled Poverty in America, at George Washington University in Washington D.C. last week, and readily expressed his upset and disappointment that President Obama would be sworn in during the 57th Inauguration using Martin Luther King Jr.’s bible. Mr. West was clear in stating that using Dr. King Jr.’s bible brought in “political calculation,” and “made his blood boil.”

“I got upset because you don’t play with Martin Luther King Jr. and you don’t play with his people,” said West. “By his people I mean, people of good conscious, fundamentally committed to peace and truth and justice, and especially the Black tradition that produced it.”

Known for his activism in racial, religious and political issues, the current Princeton professor feels that the use of the late Dr. King’s bible diminishes everything King stood for and shows a blatant disrespect for his work. According to Cornel West, “using Martin’s bible is personal to me … it’s a tradition that is connected to my grandmother’s prayers and my mother’s tears and my father’s smile.”

See his thoughts in their entirety below.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/news/cornel-west-obama-mlk-bible-disappointment/

How NOT To Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

MLK-Birthday-flyers.jpg

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Civil rights revolutionary, inspirational speaker, national treasure, martyr, leader… and the face of 2 for 1 drink specials!

What’s wrong with this picture?

Now it’s true, Black people have never shied away from the chance to blame it on the boogie. In fact, I’d submit that between the music and the moves, brown people in general are natural innovators when it comes to that club life. And there’s no disputing the fact that we will get together to celebrate being broke on a Tuesday and still sing; “Just got paid, Friday night…” Know it, got it, guilty as charged. Ok, we’re all in agreement, everybody on board and on the same page? Good!

Now what in the blue hell is wrong with some of us??

Why are we using the image of MLK to promote ish the man wouldn’t show up to with an invite and presidential endorsement? Didn’t you watch “Roots” on TV? Nobody showed you “Eyes On The Prize” on PBS or a movie by Spike Lee? Any episode of “The Cosby Show” or every other episode of “The Boondocks”?! When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he wanted we as a people to get to the promise land, he wasn’t talking about that new club downtown.

Why not use Superman or Popeye the sailor… or even Elmo?! (too soon huh?) You know why? Because with certain symbols, showing them in this light would be inappropriate, send the wrong message and basically corrupt something unnecessarily that should be able to maintain its dignity without argument. Yeah, I’m looking at YOU graphic designers!!

But hey, we’re not all about pulling out the rug without providing a soft place to land. Here are a few guidelines on how to properly celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in a way that he’d approve of.

DO: Family Gathering. Quite sure Martin didn’t mind moving down the old soul train line surrounded by fam and friends. Can’t you picture the kid cutting a rug with the wife to Booker T. & the M.G.’s, “Hip-Hug Her” in between plates of BBQ and collard greens? Yeah… me too.

DON’T: Do Anything Involving A Strip Club. Thongs didn’t make the mainstream media in Dr. King’s day and I doubt Coretta would approve. (Jesse Jackson might… but I digress) Rosa Parks ain’t play the back of the bus for y’all to back it up. If you really wanna salute the King, save the damn singles for the collection plate.

DO: Get Involved With Your Community. A man who scooped a Nobel Prize for peace would surely throw his thumbs up to a few man-hours logged at the local homeless shelter. Listen, February is right around the corner, you can hit Halo on Presidents day. Get off the laptop and get busy.

DON’T: Dedicate Drink Specials: I know the alcoholics are going to hate me but dammit y’all gotstah chill! If the protesters had showed up to the marches hung over they wouldn’t have made it past the nearest park. What kind of statement can they make when everybody need to sleep it off for equal rights?

DO: Talk To The KIDS So They Don’t Grow Up To Do Ratchet Stuff Like The First 2 Don’ts. Pretty self-explanatory. The man blocked bricks with his FACE for you. The least you can do is make sure the generation after you knows who earned them the license to go ratchet. They’d probably take less pride in doing so if they understood what it cost.

Boondocks – Martin Luther King Speech

Source: http://theurbandaily.com/2032181/how-not-to-celebrate-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-s-birthday/?omcamp=EMC-CVNL

Mandela is Well !!

Nelson Mandela Recovered From Lung Infection, Surgery: South Africa

By ANDREW MELDRUM

Nelson Mandela Recovered

JOHANNESBURG — South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela has recovered from his recent lung infection and a surgical procedure to remove gallstones, according to an announcement Sunday by President Jacob Zuma.

Doctors say that Mandela, 94, has made “steady progress and that clinically, he continues to improve,” according to a statement issued by Zuma’s office. Mandela was hospitalized for nearly three weeks in December before going home on Dec. 26.

Zuma’s statement said Mandela “continues to receive high care” at his home in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg and that “his daily routine is being gradually re-established.”

Zuma congratulated Mandela on his recovery and said the anti-apartheid icon has “the love and support of all South Africans.”

Mandela has been reading newspapers, sitting up in bed and receiving visitors, according to reports in the South African media.

The news that Mandela has recovered from the recurring lung infection and the minor surgery will reassure many in South Africa concerned about the aged leader’s health.